Deciding to find a family to adopt your baby is both courageous and selfless. It may have been difficult to come to this choice, but just know that there is a lot of support and resources for you. Don’t feel afraid or alone; there are a lot of people who want to walk with you during and after the adoption process. Even if you don’t have a village to help you on this journey, you can be assured that you and your baby will be taken care of.
Now that you’re ready to move on with the adoption process, you probably have a lot of questions and are unsure of how to begin. You may be asking yourself questions such as “How exactly does the adoption process work?” “Can I still have a relationship with my child after the adoption?” “How do I start looking for parents to adopt my baby?” “What should I look for in an adoptive family?” and “Will I still be able to get support after the adoption?”
How Do I Pick an Adoption Agency?
Since you decided to place your baby with an adoptive family, the next step is to find an adoption agency. Going through an agency often lets you have more control and support. If you were to go through your state’s foster care system, you wouldn’t be able to choose your baby’s adoptive family and the adoption would most likely be closed.
There are many different types of agencies out there. Finding the right fit for you might be a bit daunting. To help narrow down your options, make a list of what exactly you’re looking for.
Do you want an open, semi-open, or closed adoption? What do these three terms mean? These three terms dictate how much contact is maintained between the biological and adoptive parents post-placement.
Open adoption will give the baby the opportunity to maintain a relationship with the biological family post-placement. Once you have a family picked out, you can begin building that relationship while you’re pregnant. You can ask the prospective family questions, give them updates with your prenatal appointments, and be able to see your baby grow up. When your child is older, there is less chance that the child will wonder as to who they are and where they came from. They may have a better understanding that they have a birth mother and an adoptive family. Any information that they want/need can be easily accessed. You may be able to have open communication with the adoptive family via phone calls, text messages, social media, etc. and can have in-person visitations based on your open adoption agreement. Even though you legally terminated your parental rights, this may be the best avenue for you to have a relationship with your baby and the new family.
A semi-open adoption is where communication between the biological and adoptive family is through a third party (an attorney or an agency) as the mediator. Communication may also be maintained through phone calls and emails between the biological and adoptive families. You may not be able to have open communication or visitations with the adoptive family and your baby in this arrangement. However, that doesn’t mean that the door to the relationship is completely closed. In most semi-open adoptions, the adoptive family can send pictures, letters, and updates to the birth mother through the third party or ask for medical information. You can always reach out to them when you’re ready. This is a good option if you still want to be a part of your baby’s life, but you don’t want to have direct communication until you’re comfortable enough to do so.
Closed Adoption has no contact between the adoptive family and the birth mother. A closed adoption usually takes place when there has been a history of abuse, and security is needed for the safety of the child. A closed adoption may also be opted for when the birth parent(s) want privacy. Most birth parents that choose a closed adoption look at this as an opportunity for the child and for themselves to move forward from the adoption without it defining their futures.
You could be wondering, “Are there options for a Christian or secular agency?” The answer is yes; there are different types of agencies out there associated with different faiths. If you want your baby to grow up in a Christian home or if you had a Christian upbringing, you might be wondering if it’s worth going through a Christian agency. There are some similarities and differences between secular and Christian agencies. Both Christian and secular agencies have the same regulations (local, state, federal, etc.). Typically, most Christian adoption agencies have caseworkers and prospective families who share the same views and values as the biological family. While secular agencies are open-minded with different kinds of couples and families, Christian agencies usually only sponsor heterosexual couples.
What else should you consider in your search for an adoption agency? A great place to start looking for potential agencies is to search locally. You can even get in touch with a nearby agency and ask them questions to see if they’re the right fit for you. Do they offer counseling and support after the adoption is over? Do they have a specific stance on how open or closed the adoption is? What are the prospective families involved in the agency like? How do I start looking for parents to adopt my baby? What should I even look for in a family? Your chosen adoption agency may be able to answer these questions and more.
How Do I Start Looking for Parents to Adopt My Baby?
Once you pick the adoption agency that seems right for you, they will ask you questions to see what you’re looking for in a family. Are you wanting families in a specific area? Do you have preferences regarding ethnicity, religion, and other factors? Are you comfortable with a single parent raising your baby? It’s perfectly fine if you’re still stuck; the agency is here to help you every step of the way. You will then be able to look at the parents wanting to adopt a baby. Depending on the agency, they might even have pictures, profile videos, and information all about the family and why they want to adopt. If you want to see an example of Parent Profiles, check out The Gladney Center for Adoption.
When you’re ready to narrow down your options, you can meet the families in person to ask them questions of your own. Are they willing to have an open, semi-open, or closed adoption? If you choose a family with a different ethnicity of your baby, are they willing to teach and embrace the child’s heritage? What are the family dynamics like? Why did they decide to adopt? Do they have other children, adopted or biological? How do they feel about a new member of the family? If not, are they wanting to expand their family? Pick the family that you fall in love with; don’t be hasty with the decision.
I Picked a Family, Now What?
After you decided on your baby’s forever family, the next step is to get started with the adoption process and to start thinking about your birth plan. During this time, you may want to keep in contact with the adoptive family to start building that relationship and to keep them in the loop with how the baby is progressing. It’s good to start thinking about how you want the birth to go. Do you want anyone in the room with you when you’re in labor? Are you wanting to bond with the baby before placing the child with the adoptive parents? How much do you want to be involved after the baby is born? When will the adoptive parents meet the baby? If you’re feeling overwhelmed and are struggling with these questions, talk with your caseworker or even an options counselor.
The wonderful thing about most adoption agencies is that you’re not alone during and after the adoption. You can even read about testimonials from birth mothers and talk to one if you still have a lot of questions. This is a great option because you get to hear from someone who went through exactly what you’re going through right now. Every birth mother’s story is unique, but there’s a huge chance that they have had the same questions, feelings, and experiences that you are having. Sure, it’s good to get your questions answered from the agency, but it’s also helpful to get answers from someone who knows what you’re dealing with.
What Happens After the Baby is Born?
When it’s time for the baby to come along, just remember that your birth plan should be flexible. Babies like to come in their own time in their own way. However, you are still in control of some aspects. You can say who you want with you, how much time you want to spend with the baby after birth, and what you want to do going forward. You have the right to change your mind. You do not have to justify any change in plans. You take the time you need with your baby.
Every state is different, but there’s a certain amount of time between the birth and when the biological mother (and father) signs away parental rights. During this time, you may want to spend time with the baby and the adoptive family before. Along with the obvious hormonal roller coaster of postpartum, you’ll most likely be feeling torn by your choice, and that’s perfectly normal. If you choose an open or semi-open adoption, you’ll still be able to be in your child’s life. However, you may feel like you’re drowning in emotions and can’t catch a break. The Gladney Center for Adoption also offers support after the adoption is over. Another great avenue of support is to talk to a counselor or join a group specifically geared for mothers who decided to find another home for their babies. The adoption process will be complete for the birth mother after she signs her parental rights away, but love and support don’t end there.
How does an expectant mother start looking for parents to adopt her baby? It starts by going through a wonderful adoption agency to stand alongside you during this difficult time. It’s completely up to you as the birth mother to find an agency that will work with you to find the best parents for your baby. Most adoptive parents are more than willing to have a relationship with you before, during, and after placement. You also have the option of getting support from other birth mothers and people who want to see you succeed. Grief is inevitable in this situation, and it’s completely healthy to feel that way. However, this doesn’t make you a bad mother or a terrible person. You were willing to give your baby a life that you felt you couldn’t offer. You chose a family for him or her that will love and cherish them forever. Remember to always lean on your support systems and get professional help if necessary. There’s no shame in asking for assistance no matter where you are in your journey.
Do you still have questions about your options or the adoption process? Call or text 1-800-GLADNEY (452-3639) to speak to a counselor.
For more information about post-adoption support, check out the Birth Mothers Amplified Podcast to join the community and connect with other birth moms that may know what you’re going through.Are you considering placing a child for adoption? Not sure what to do next? First, know that you are not alone. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to speak to one of our Options Counselors to get compassionate, nonjudgmental support. We are here to assist you in any way we can.
Emily Perez is a stay-at-home mama to 2 sweet boys and wife to a handsome electrician living the small-town life in Idaho. She has a BS in Elementary Education from Eastern Oregon University and loved teaching 2nd grade. When she was younger, her parents did foster care and adopted 5 kiddos from all walks of life to be her siblings. She hopes to do foster care and adoption in the future. Along with adoption, her other passions include advocating for mental health and special needs. Emily enjoys being with family and friends, snuggling her babies, playing the piano, singing, reading, and writing. Coffee is her go-to drink for fuel and she loves anything chocolate!